AT A GLANCE:
Name of wine estate: Château Oumsiyat
Wine region: Bekaa Valley
Standout points: Enviable location in the historic village of Mtein
Winemaker: Joseph Bou Sleiman
Wine style: Fresh Mediterranean-style wines focusing on French varieties
Home of the emirs
Château Oumsiyat is a warm and familial wine destination in the foothills of Mount Lebanon. With commanding views of the ancient terroirs of the Bekaa Valley, the château itself is located at in what must be one of the most beautiful villages in Lebanon: Mtein. With a history stretching back to antiquity, Mtein really rose to prominence in the early 1600s, when the Abillama emirs settled there. One of its most striking features is its central square, the Midane al-Oumara, around which the sumptuous palaces of the emirs were built. Any visit to Château Oumsiyat would be enhanced tenfold by an exploration of this historic and atmospheric village.
The family business
Winemaking know-how has been passed down through the Bou Sleiman family since 1950. Since fourth-generation winemaker Joseph Bou Sleiman took over the reins, he has sought to blend respect for local tradition with modern winemaking techniques to craft a range of fresh Mediterranean-style wines that fuse elements of the Old World and the New. Joseph also built the modern Château Oumsiyat winery in Mtein, which is surrounded by 78ha of vineyards situated at more than 1,000m altitude in the beautiful Bekaa Valley.
Those planning to visit Château Oumsiyat could do much worse than stay at the charming on-site guest house. With perfect views of the surrounding countryside, the château restaurant is the perfect place from which to familiarise yourself with the Oumsiyat wine range which includes what must be the only Assyrtiko (the native white grape of Santorini) in the Middle East. Look out also for wines from the indigenous Lebanese white variety Obeidy, along with more classic white varieties such as Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Viognier. Oumsiyat’s typically rich, spicy reds, meanwhile, favour Merlot, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cinsault and Tempranillo.